6 Replies Latest reply: Feb 19, 2015 12:03 AM by Aero Windwalker
Peter Treut Level 1 (0 points)

I'm hoping to set TextEdit to have all new plain text documents open with a specific font and background color.  When I make changes in the New Document tab of the application's preferences, clicking the "Change…" button by "Plain text font" allows me to set the display font, but any choices I make regarding colors seem to be completely ineffectual.  I could not find anything in other threads on the forum that would yield a solution.  Any advice?

TextEdit, Mac OS X (10.7.5)
  • Kurt Lang Level 8 (36,660 points)

    Plain text means plain text. Unformatted, no attributes. If you want to set a specific font, you must use rich text.

  • Peter Treut Level 1 (0 points)

    Sorry if I wasn't clear - I want to change the color to reduce eye strain.  I can do this on individual plain text documents using the "Show Fonts" command, but want to just have new documents default to the settings I prefer.

  • Kurt Lang Level 8 (36,660 points)

    Can't be done. TextEdit will let you apply such changes while you have a plain text document open, even though it shouldn't. Save the file, close and reopen it, and you'll see anything you've done is gone and will display again as exactly what the file is; plain text.


    Even using rich text as your default document type, you can pick a particular font to use as the default, but you can't set a color. The preferences will also let you set a font as the default for plain text, but only you will see the files that way since the font info is not written into the document. Anyone who receives your plain text files will see the font as whatever their default is.

  • Peter Treut Level 1 (0 points)

    This is a bummer, man...that's, uh, that's a bummer - I was looking for something to work like the Terminal's text display preferences, or MS Word's blue/white option, but oh well.  Thanks for giving a clear answer.


    I write with unformatted text precisely for the reason you mention - easier to work with without having any carried formatting to clutter the prose.

  • Kurt Lang Level 8 (36,660 points)

    There's one way around it, sort of. Make rich text the default and select your preferred font. Close the prefs. Now start a document with any letter and apply a color to it. Save the file and call it Template, or something similar.


    Now for each new document, copy the template file to a new name and open it. Backspace out the one letter and start typing. It will retain the color you assigned.


    A bit of a nuisance, but the only way in TextEdit to do what you want. Looking around the app a bit more, there is no method to assign a background color.

  • Aero Windwalker Level 1 (0 points)

    Hey there, TextEdit isn't a powerful option for plain text editing (nor is it a powerful rich text editor either). Instead you can use Sublime Text, which allows you to customize background and foreground color.